Posted by Emily Hughes, Legal Assistant
Am I allowed to represent myself in the Family Court?
The simple answer is: Yes
Many people choose to represent themselves in the Family Court; in fact, figures from the Ministry of Justice revealed that in 2017 64% of people involved in private family law cases represented themselves. HHJ Wildblood highlighted the issue recently in BBC’s Inside Out West.
HHJ Wildblood noted that, due to the changes to the scope of legal aid funding, 80% of the cases he deals with have at least one party without legal representation. Whilst any lawyer has a duty to the Court to act with independence in the interests of justice i.e. litigants in person will not be at a personal disadvantage, it can still be a daunting prospect when going it alone and can often cause a great deal of additional issues.
Unfortunately, being a litigant in person can come with added expense and can be extremely time-consuming, for both the litigant in person and the Court due to a lack of understanding of the law and procedure, together with more frequent communication.
To highlight the problem further, Judge Wildblood has taken a bold and unusual step to making his courtroom, and the entire process, more familiar and accessible to litigants in person. As Family proceedings aren’t open to the public, unlike Criminal proceedings, the Bristol-based Judge has written plays to showcase life inside the Courtroom.
But does he think the system is broken and unfair? He said: “I don’t think the system is broken, and the Judges wouldn’t allow it to be broken. Whether the overall process is fair, that people are coming to Court on their own, is not really for me to say. That’s for others to Judge”.
Our advice is to always try and take legal advice as it works out to be much more time and cost efficient for you – we offer simplicity appointments at a lower rate for those that are conscious of costs but need some initial guidance.
If you would like to speak to one of our lawyers regarding this issue, please contact our Family Law team on:
0800 923 2074 Email us
Family law solicitors who combine expertise with understanding